Hertz, Heinrich Rudolph

b. 22 February 1857 Hamburg, Germany
d. 1 January 1894 Bonn, Germany
German physicist who was reputedly the first person to transmit and receive radio waves.
At the age of 17 Hertz entered the Gelehrtenschule of the Johaneums in Hamburg, but he left the following year to obtain practical experience for a year with a firm of engineers in Frankfurt am Main. He then spent six months at the Dresden Technical High School, followed by year of military service in Berlin. At this point he decided to switch from engineering to physics, and after a year in Munich he studied physics under Helmholtz at the University of Berlin, gaining his PhD with high honours in 1880. From 1883 to 1885 he was a privat-dozent at Kiel, during which time he studied the electromagnetic theory of James Clerk Maxwell. In 1885 he succeeded to the Chair in Physics at Karlsruhe Technical High School. There, in 1887, he constructed a rudimentary transmitter consisting of two 30 cm (12 in.) rods with metal balls separated by a 7.5 mm (0.3 in.) gap at the inner ends and metallic plates at the outer ends, the whole assembly being mounted at the focus of a large parabolic metal mirror and the two rods being connected to an induction coil. At the other side of his laboratory he placed a 70 cm (27½ in.) diameter wire loop with a similar air gap at the focus of a second metal mirror. When the induction coil was made to create a spark across the transmitter air gap, he found that a spark also occurred at the "receiver". By a series of experiments he was not only able to show that the invisible waves travelled in straight lines and were reflected by the parabolic mirrors, but also that the vibrations could be refracted like visible light and had a similar wavelength. By this first transmission and reception of radio waves he thus confirmed the theoretical predictions made by Maxwell some twenty years earlier. It was probably in his experiments with this apparatus in 1887 that Hertz also observed that the voltage at which a spark was able to jump a gap was significantly reduced by the presence of ultraviolet light. This so-called photoelectric effect was subsequently placed on a theoretical basis by Albert Einstein in 1905. In 1889 he became Professor of Physics at the University of Bonn, where he continued to investigate the nature of electric discharges in gases at low pressure until his death after a long and painful illness. In recognition of his measurement of radio and other waves, the international unit of frequency of an oscillatory wave, the cycle per second, is now universally known as the Hertz.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Royal Society Rumford Medal 1890.
Much of Hertz's work, including his 1890 paper "On the fundamental equations of electrodynamics for bodies at rest", is recorded in three collections of his papers which are available in English translations by D.E.Jones et al., namely Electric Waves (1893), Miscellaneous Papers (1896) and Principles of Mechanics (1899).
Further Reading
J.G.O'Hara and W.Pricha, 1987, Hertz and the Maxwellians, London: Peter Peregrinus. J.Hertz, 1977, Heinrich Hertz, Memoirs, Letters and Diaries, San Francisco: San Francisco Press.
R.Appleyard, 1930, Pioneers of Electrical Communication.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Heinrich Rudolph Hertz — Heinrich Hertz Unterschrift von Heinrich Hertz Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (* 22. Februar 1857 in Hamburg; † 1. Januar …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Heinrich Rudolph Hertz — noun German physicist who was the first to produce electromagnetic waves artificially (1857 1894) • Syn: ↑Hertz, ↑Heinrich Hertz • Derivationally related forms: ↑Hertzian (for: ↑Hertz) • Instance Hypernyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Heinrich Rudolph Hertz — n. Heinrich Hertz (1857 1894), German physicist, first person who produced electromagnetic waves in an artificial manner …   English contemporary dictionary

  • HERTZ (H. R.) — HERTZ HEINRICH RUDOLPH (1857 1894) Physicien allemand (oncle de Gustav Hertz, lauréat du prix Nobel de physique en 1925) né à Hambourg et mort à Bonn. Heinrich Rudolph Hertz, après des études d’ingénieur, abandonne cette branche pour la physique …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Heinrich Hertz — Infobox Scientist name = Heinrich Rudolf Hertz image width = 230px birth date = birth date|1857|2|22|mf=y birth place = Hamburg, Germany residence = Germany nationality = German death date = death date and age|1894|1|1|1857|2|22|mf=y death place …   Wikipedia

  • Heinrich Hertz — noun German physicist who was the first to produce electromagnetic waves artificially (1857 1894) • Syn: ↑Hertz, ↑Heinrich Rudolph Hertz • Derivationally related forms: ↑Hertzian (for: ↑Hertz) • Instance Hypernyms …   Useful english dictionary

  • HERTZ, GUSTAV — (1887–1975), German physicist and Nobel Prize winner, son of a Jewish father. Born in Hamburg, he became an assistant in the Physical Institute at Berlin in 1913.   He was severely wounded in World War I, and subsequently worked at Eindhoven in… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Hertz — (izg. hȅrc) DEFINICIJA 1. Gustav (1887 1975), njemački atomski fizičar, Nobelova nagrada 1925 (s J. Franckom) 2. Heinrich Rudolph (1857 1894), njemački fizičar …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Hertz — Hertzian /herrt see euhn, hairt /, adj. /herrts, hairts/; Ger. /herddts/, n. 1. Gustav /goos tahf/, 1887 1975, German physicist: Nobel prize 1925. 2. Heinrich Rudolph /huyn rddikh rddooh dawlf/, 1857 94, German physicist. * * * ▪ unit of… …   Universalium

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